Open Space at The Zoo Fence

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Sri Ramana Maharshi
on Enquiry Practice

A friend of The Zoo Fence writes, “Last evening I read this passage before sleep, and it leapt out at me as being particularly clear and potent. Perhaps it was the timing, perhaps it was me, perhaps it is Ramana. More likely, I suppose, it was just the right combination of the three. Anyway, I hope it will be helpful to other TZF visitors.” The source is the book Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi (T.N. Venkataraman, 1984), page 357.

Seeker:   When I read Sri Bhagavan’s works, I find that investigation is said to be the one method for Realization.

Sri Ramana Maharshi:   Yes, that is vichara.

S:   How is that done?

M:   The questioner must admit the existence of his or her self. “I AM” is the Realization. To pursue the clue till Realization is vichara. Vichara and Realization are the same.

S:   It is elusive. What shall I meditate upon?

M:   Meditation requires an object to meditate upon, whereas there is only the subject without the object in vichara. Meditation differs from vichara in this way.

S:   Is not dhyana one of the efficient processes for Realization?

M:   Dhyana is concentration on an object. It fulfils the purpose of keeping away diverse thoughts and fixing the mind on a single thought, which must also disappear before Realization. But Realization is nothing new to be acquired. It is already there, but obstructed by a screen of thoughts. All our attempts are directed for lifting this screen, and then Realization is revealed.
        If a true seeker is advised to meditate, many may go away satisfied with the advice. But some one among them may turn round, and ask, “Who am I to meditate on an object?” Such a one must be told to find the Self. That is the finality. That is vichara.

S:   Will vichara alone do in the absence of meditation?

Sri Ramana Maharshi:   Vichara is the process and the goal also. “I AM” is the goal and the final Reality. To hold to it with effort is vichara. When spontaneous and natural it is Realization.

Open Space

Vichara and dhyana are Sanskrit words. Vichara signifies the ultimate spiritual enquiry, the reach to discover why we, who are the Infinite Immortal One, take ourselves to be a limited, mortal body trapped in a finite world. For Sri Ramana Maharshi and some other Teachers, this enquiry takes the form of the question, “Who Am I?”, and is a sufficient practice. Dhyana means meditation or contemplation, focus upon a single word or object as a means to silence thoughts and still the mind, making possible Remembrance (of our already True Nature) and thereby releasing Self-Realization. The form meditaton practice takes depends upon the spiritual tradition followed. Thus, here Ramana teaches a seeker to reach for Realization either by enquiry alone or by meditation practice, as suits him or her, but above all, to make the reach! See also here. (Return to Text)